Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More on Big Oil, drilling...

In case you didn't catch it, the name "Cheney milkshakes" in this week's 'toon was borrowed from the now-infamous final scene of There Will Be Blood... but I'm sure you caught that. You're quite clever...


  • All indications are that offshore drilling (like drilling in ANWR) would not yield any oil for 10 years, and even then would have no significant impact on gas prices. Meanwhile, here's what it'll do to the environment:
    ...the back-to-back wallops of Katrina and Hurricane Rita caused 124 spills that released more than 700,000 gallons of petroleum pollution into the environment. Furthermore, the problem of drilling-related pollution is not limited to the aftermath of natural disasters. Offshore oil production also brings with it the risk of spills from tanker accidents, which are devastating to ocean and shore life as well as seaside tourist economies. Then there's the
    chronic pollution from drilling operations. The Rainforest Action Network estimates that over its lifetime one normally operating oil drilling rig will:
    * dump more than 90,000 metric tons of toxic drilling fluid and metal cuttings into the ocean;
    * drill between 50 and 100 wells, each of which will dump as much as 25,000 pounds of toxic metals including lead, chromium and mercury, and potent carcinogens like toluene, benzene, and xylene into the ocean; and
    * pollute the air as much as 7,000 cars driving 50 miles a day.
  • Michael Brush:
    ExxonMobil... generated $40.6 billion in net income last year and $36.6 billion in free cash flow. What did it do with those riches? It gave $38.4 billion back to shareholders -- $7.4 billion in dividend payments and $31 billion through share buybacks.
    This means the windfall profits that ExxonMobil gave back to shareholders last year were enough to buy all the households in both California and Pennsylvania gasoline for the entire year. It was enough to give everyone a 27 cents-a-gallon discount on gas nationwide for the whole year.

  • If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out an out-freakin'-standing piece by Paul Salopek called "A Tank of Gas, A World of Trouble," which has been sitting in my "stuff-to-read" folder for a while. It traces a tank of gas from the time it's taken out of the ground in a war-torn foreign land, to the "Heartland" gas station where it's pumped by an oblivious soccer-mom into her 10 mpg Hummer. Among the compelling stories are fascinating snippets like this:

    In some respects, crude really does resemble blood. It scabs on exposure to air. It is organic and viscous. Some companies warm oil to about 90 degrees to make it slip more easily, with less friction, through pipelines. This temperature approximates that of the human body. Cold oil will coagulate. It coats the inner surfaces of the pipes with waxy buildups, much like arterial plaque.

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